NewEnergyBlue has acquired exclusive rights to Inbicon’s bio-conversion technology throughout the Americas. The company first plans to use it to turn North Dakota wheat straw into a carbon-neutral automotive fuel.
The technology license was purchased from Ørsted, a Danish green energy company. Ørsted developed the technology over 15 years at a cost exceeding $200 million, proving efficacy and commercial operation at its refinery in Kalundborg, Denmark, for nearly five of those years.
“A number of our executives worked with Ørsted developing this technology,” says Thomas Corle, CEO of NewEnergyBlue. “Our engineers continued to optimize the process of the refineries we’re designing today.”
The company intends to build a series of biomass refineries across grain belts and sugar-growing regions to process agricultural residues such as wheat straw, cornstalks and sugar bagasse, converting them into a high-octane ethanol that’s more than 100% below the carbon baseline of grain ethanol and more than 140% below that of gasoline, claims NewEnergyBlue.
“Our plan is to feed fuel markets in states like California and countries who likewise battle carbon pollution with policies that incentivize low-carbon biofuels made from agricultural residues,” Corle says.
But counting carbon isn’t the only way of keeping score, the company says: “Using Inbicon technology at the core of our refinery gives a clean process – no acid or high ammonia used – unlike other technologies at commercial scale,” explains Corle.
NewEnergyBlue’s refinery prefers high-pressure steam, followed by an enzyme bath, to break down the biomass fibers into sugars and lignin that are valuable for making liquid and solid biofuels.
“Instead of using fresh water,” Corle adds, “our enclosed-loop design recycles the water from the biomass – about 15 percent moisture – which can produce a surplus of clean water for uses like irrigation.”
The company expects groundbreaking for its Spiritwood, N.D., refinery in 2020. The Spirit Biomass Refinery will be owned by NewEnergyBlue and its equity holders.